Lights On In the Kitchen!

August 31, 2015

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We’re a couple of homebodies, working to uncover the home our home wants to be. And we’re so happy to have you here. 




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This weekend, we got all the cabinet fittings in, which amounted to about 40 doors and drawers!, and all the hardware on and everything cleaned up (again). I can’t wait to share those details and photos with you later this week, but today I wanted to circle back around to a project we did a couple weeks ago, that made a huge difference–the recessed lighting in the kitchen!


Our old kitchen was rocking three fluorescent lights and a boob light. Talk about a deadly combination.


We thought a lot about what kind of lighting we wanted in the kitchen, and we settled on a mix of island pendants (these), sconces (these) over the window and recessed lighting to really brighten the whole space. We had our guy, Francisco, run all the electrical for the lighting, but we had to mark exactly where we wanted everything placed. The pendants and sconces were easy enough, but the recessed lights took a bit more mapping out.

To determine how far apart to space recessed lights, divide the height of the ceiling by two. If a room has standard 8 foot ceilings, like our home, the recessed lights should be approximately 4 feet apart. So, if the ceiling is 10 feet, you’ll want to put about 5 feet of space in between each fixture, make sense?  Since we really wanted to make sure the counterspace was lit well, we started on the left side of the kitchen, about 2 ft away from the wall, so the recessed lighting was lined up just outside of the countertop. We used 5″ Halo cans.


We spaced each light about 4 ft apart, with rows of 3 cans on either side of the kitchen and one recessed light in front of where the ranges will be. I have been working with Cree for the past few months (mostly on social media) and they asked if there was any use for their LED bulbs in our kitchen renovation.


I said, we’d love to give them a try in our new recessed lights! All of their bulbs look like normal bulbs, but last 25 times longer than regular bulbs (as in, we’ll have to change them when Greta graduates high school!), they’re dimmable (which isn’t always the case with LEDs), and they only use 9 watts of power so we’re saving money and energy.


Probably my biggest and only hesitation was the time it takes LEDs to heat up and come to full power to light the room. I know it’s a small trade off to saving energy, but can we all agree the heat up process is a bummer? That’s why I was so pleasantly surprised to learn that Cree bulbs come right on. Full power. Full brightness. I took a little 15 second video to demonstrate (there’s a sneak peek at the cabinets and hardware, too!).

I know daylight bulbs are all the rage (and Cree has those, too), but I am partial to their soft white color. It still shows colors really well and true, but there is a warmth it adds to a room that I just love. Soft White, forever!

Here’s a lights off/lights on so you can see the brightness and color difference:



It’s bright and happy and cozy. Caring about the color of your light bulbs must officially make you an adult. Ha!


Cree bulbs are available at Home Depot, but we’re also doing a giveaway for them on Instagram today! Head over there (@chrislovesjulia) to get entered.

This post is sponsored by Cree.  The sent us their BR30 LED bulbs to use in our kitchen, but you can check out their  full selection of LED bulbs right here

What do you think?

  1. Liz M says:

    Hey Julia! Found this after listening to the “lighting” podcast. I learned so much. How did you settle on 5″ recessed lights? My contractor installed 6″ in the kitchen ( ceiling is still wide open) and I’m obsessing over whether they are too big. We have exactly 8′ ceilings and are going with Cree. Would love to hear your thoughts! I generally just don’t like overhead light haha.

    • Chris says:

      We actually wanted to go with 4in cans but had trouble finding some that were insulation rated. We’re with you – smaller the better, but even the 6in, after awhile you probably wouldn’t notice.

  2. Hi,
    Glad to see your post….I am very happy to see your informative post which helps me a lot.

    The kitchen lighting can be made the most effective by keeping these few key elements in mind. One of the most user friendly and popular forms of illuminating the kitchen is the overhead lighting. While using this form of lighting, the point to be kept in mind is that there should be other modes of lighting as well. This should not be used as the only means of providing light in a kitchen area.

    According to my opinion track lighting is excellent for this use since the light fixtures can be easily adjusted as to where they are focused, allowing the homeowner to point focused light at functional areas such as the counter where food is prepared, the stove, and the island in the middle of the kitchen where children may do their studying. This focused lighting method takes much of the strain off the eyes and also increases safety when slicing and preparing food since it is much easier to see the work that is being performed.
    Thanks for being sharing….Keep it up :-)

  3. Natasha says:

    Do you have a link to the trim you used on your can light housing?

  4. Erin says:

    Your kitchen looks just amazing! We are upgrading to led’s in our kitchen and I feel like the 60w soft white makes it feel very sterile. Do yours feel like this at all? We have open cans, are yours covered? Appreciate any help!!

    • Julia says:

      Ours are open, too? Have you tried these Cree bulbs? We felt other LEDs always felt cold, or took forever to heat up. These are nice and warm and come on right away!

  5. Casey says:

    I’m with you – soft white all the way! You’re kitchen is looking really great :)

  6. Beryl says:

    Would you share how you decided on island pendant placement (how far apart, size of the fixture, etc)? I am also planning to replace the fluorescent box with pendant lights from Rejuvenation (Hood pendant), but I am stuck on which size to get, to use 2 or 3 pendants (our island is 32″W x 87″L). Also, did you have to re-texture the ceiling after you remove the old light? Any help would be appreciated! Thanks!

  7. Roosevelt says:

    Thank you! I am always so lost in the lighting section in kitchen. Thanks for sharing

  8. Katy says:

    We have terrible lighting in our kitchen andI can’t wait until January when we finally remodel the kitchen! Also I’m so glad you wrote this post- light bulbs make such a huge difference in a room and I was trying to explain that to my husband with no avail the other day in Home Depot. Now I can just show him this post tonight :)

  9. Judi says:

    We went to LEDs in our kitchen last year in the dead of winter (we live in Vermont where soft white and daylight temp bulbs are heavily subsidized) and for a while we thought they might be too bright because we were so unused to being able to see everything! We added additional lights to the kitchen this year and love the brightness. We are playing around a bit with color temps; the 5000K that is most usually sold as daylight is, agreed, far too blue. We found a 75W equivalent in 4000K from a company called G7 in Nevada that is a little less yellowing than the 3000K soft white for our kitchen. But we have a combo of 3000K (Philips); 3000K (Cree) and 4000K (G7 and Triangle pin spot halogen equivalents) in the rest of the house. It’s all about the application!

    Cree has AWESOME customer service. One of their 60W bulbs burned out after a year and I sent it off to the company…less than two weeks later I got a new bulb in the mail. Plus, the build is very good. We have those 60W bulbs I mentioned in milk glass shades in the bathroom; the bulbs are completely covered by the shade and the light that comes through is very even. tried a Utilitech 60W ($2.88 at Lowe’s in Vermont) when the last of the old non-LEDs burned out and the light is uneven–comes out only from the end of the bulb, so looks weird. Cree bulbs are just…better. So glad you’re happy with yours!

  10. Evelina says:

    I have spent too much time deliberating the colours of light bulbs! We have soft white in ours too!

  11. Alli says:

    Thank you! I am always so lost in the lighting section. Watts? Color? I just never know. Thanks for shedding light on this for me! (Ha-ha)

  12. Lucas says:

    Warm light is definitely the way to go. I am a residential architect and I work in a very high end sector of the market. “Daylight” color temperature sounds great but it makes the space feel quite institutional. Clients have insisted on it in the past and they have come away disappointed. Warm light at 3000K has excellent color rendering but doesn’t wash out one’s skin tone! You wanna look good and so does your space!

  13. Sandi says:

    We have had similar lights since we renovated 5 years ago. I wasn’t keen on the slight delay in them warming up to be their full brightness but I honestly don’t even notice it anymore, its completely worth it in every way. Can’t wait to see the finished kitchen!

  14. Leslie B says:

    Good to know! I’d love to extend the recessed lights in my kitchen throughout the rest of the great rooom but I have been wondering what the best layout is.

  15. Cindy says:

    Yes, shout out to Cree bulbs! We have been slowly replacing all the lights in our house with these, and I can attest to their awesomeness. We always get the warm white.

    Customer service is above and beyond. We had one bulb stop working (not supposed to happen: should be around high school graduation, like you said, Julia). The packaging and receipt were long gone, but I looked up Cree’s contact information on the web and called them to see if they could help. Zero problem: they shipped a new bulb to my house and it was here within a few days. Shipped it. In a few days. TO MY HOUSE. I didn’t even have to return the old one.

    Hard to find a great product matched with great customer service, you know? We are converts.

  16. Sarah C says:

    Generally, I agree with you on the appeal of warm light. However, after a lot of research, and as someone who, like Chris, is passionate about cooking, I have learned that cooler light is better in the kitchen. Warmer light can alter the appearance of food and throw off one’s ability to tell (by sight, anyway) when food is properly cooked. It definitely has taken some getting used to – especially since our kitchen, like yours, is open to our main living space where we use warmer lights. But in the end, the function of proper task lighting was more important to us than the initial dislike I had for two different temperature lights so near each other.

    Can’t wait to see the kitchen with all the cabinet doors in!

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We’re a couple of homebodies, working to uncover the home our home wants to be. And we’re so happy to have you here. 

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